Honestly, I didn’t really believe that Clinton Portis was going to hang up his cleats when he announced his retirement earlier this week. Then I saw the thank you note that Portis posted to his fans:
I entered this city wide-eyed and excited. I was a 22-year old kid who didn’t know the storied history or the timeless legacy that is The Redskin Nation. What I did know was that I was called upon to deliver more than just touchdowns. I was brought here to work alongside a great group of teammates to uplift the spirits of an organization, a community, and the best fans in the world.
Today, I hang up my jersey and untie my cleats. I reflect on my time here as some of the best times I can remember and hope that it is as memorable for you as it is for me. I want to thank my teammates, my family, and my fans for all the love and support and for allowing me to grow from a boy into a man in a city that I will forever love.
A special thank you to Mr. and Mrs. Snyder for everything they have done for me and my family, Coach Shannahan for giving me the chance of a lifetime, and Coach Gibbs for making me a man. LOVE YOU ALL!
Redskin Nation Forever HTTR
I wasn’t one of the fans that Portis was writing to in this letter, but I’m sure going to miss arguing over how high to take him in fantasy football drafts and whether or not all those press conference personalities were good for this team. Those were pretty much the only thoughts that I had about Portis after I heard the news of his retirement. I knew he was a very good running back, and I was going to miss ESPN taking a break from Tim Tebow coverage to play his post game interviews.
Then that question that always seems to pop into my head when a player of any sport retires jumped up and bit me; Is he a Hall of Famer? (If you’re not sick of me asking that about players yet, wait a few years. Or months.)(Or days)
The first thought I had after asking myself if Portis deserved the Hall of Fame was that his career was too short for him to ever get inducted. I didn’t really have the exact length of his career figured out yet, but it just seemed to me that he hadn’t been around that long. I realized after checking Portis’ career numbers that his career wasn’t actually short, it just seemed short. I also realized that I’m getting old.
(Seriously, the players that I think of as NFL Hall of Famers all played/retired during my mid to late teens. My brain is having a hard time wrapping around the fact that a player who started playing after I graduated from high school)
The stat table above profiles three similar NFL running backs. Two of them are Hall of Famers and one is Clinton Portis. As you can see, there aren’t very many glaring differences between the players profiled. Player C had the longest career, but was used the least of the three. Player A leads the group in attempts, yards, touchdowns, and had the fewest amount of fumbles. Player B is tucked neatly between A and C in almost every respect aside from his rare use as a weapon in the passing game.
Numbers aren’t the only thing that makes a Hall of Famer, but I would argue that Player A is the most deserving of the Hall of Fame from this small snapshot of his career. Player A is Clinton Portis. (Player B is Houston Oilers Earl Campbell and Player C is Cleveland Browns Leroy Kelly)
When a reporter asked Portis if he thinks he’ll be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame someday, he didn’t seem sure. “You know, it would be a great feat,” Portis said. “I think if the measurement for the Hall of Fame, if they can add my biggest attribute, which was heart, I would definitely be there. But for just the numbers, I’m not sure.”
Portis’ effort on every play, colorful locker room interviews, and six healthy seasons averaging 1,446 rushing yards ensure that his career left a lasting imprint on the NFL, and that’s the measurement that I use when deciding whether I think a player should be in the Hall of Fame.
Really though, I just want to see what character he becomes at the induction ceremony.